EXPORT earnings of Sarawak’s timber sector in the first eight months of this year showed a decline of 14 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said from January until August, the timber sector registered export earnings of RM3.58 billion compared to RM4.17 billion in the corresponding period of 2017.
“The decline was mainly due to the reduction in the supply of raw materials and the inability of the current mills to process the type of raw materials that are currently available in the market, as well as slower demand from major markets,” he said in his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.
He also said the production of logs from natural forest decreased by 18 per cent, from 3.8 million cubic metres in the first eight months of 2017 to 3.1 million cubic metres over the same period this year.
“The five major markets for Sarawak timber products were Japan, India, South Korea, the Middle East and Taiwan,” he added.
He pointed out the Sarawak government has undertaken various initiatives to ensure the sustainable development of the timber industry, especially the growth of value-added products which includes furniture manufacturing.
Awang Tengah said the government will ensure that the forest is managed on sustainable basis and will facilitate the implementation of the forest management certification and compliance to the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS), as this will help to increase the credibility of Sarawak timber products in the export markets.
“The forest and timber industry policies are being reviewed and adjusted in order to meet the current and future market requirements. The government will review the log reservation quota quantum and will gradually increase the quota for local log consumption in the local industry, should the need arise. In order to sustain the timber industry, the local manufacturers need to undertake the retooling process in line with the changes on the type of raw materials available in the future,” he added.
To supplement the supply of raw materials, he said the government will ensure the successful implementation of the industrial forest in the state.
“The annual production of logs from industrial forest is expected to increase to at least two million cubic metres to meet the shortfall of logs from natural forest.
“In order to enhance the capability of the processing industry to produce competitive high-value-added products, the government, through Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), has implemented the Pool of Young Designers (Poyod) programme, in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
“Since its establishment in 2018, in collaboration with the private sectors, Poyod has participated in Index Mumbai in May 2018 and Australia International Furniture Fair (AIFF) 2018 which successfully generated a total trade inquiry on furniture worth RM6 million. This initiative is giving a positive impact in terms of opening a new market for furniture in India and Australia.”
Awang Tengah also said that recently, STIDC signed a memorandum of agreement with Institut of Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Indonesia to upgrade and add value to the Poyod programme.
He also said the findings of the Forestry and Timber Industry Master Plan Study (2019-2040), upon its completion by the end of this year, will be able to further strengthen the government’s effort in providing a clear roadmap over the next 21 years towards developing a sustainable and high-value-added timber industry in the future.
On illegal logging, he said prevention and enforcement efforts are still ongoing and jointly involving the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
He disclosed that 96 investigation papers have been received as of Oct 29 this year.